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Readings in Twenty-First-Century European Literatures

Edited By Michael Gratzke, Margaret-Anne Hutton and Claire Whitehead

Readings in Twenty-First-Century European Literatures brings together analyses of post-2000 literary works from twelve European literatures. Sharing a common aim – that of taking the first step in identifying and analysing some of the emergent trends in contemporary European literatures – scholars from across Europe come together in this volume to address a range of issues. Topics include the post-postmodern; the effect of new media on literary production; the relationship between history, fiction and testimony; migrant writing and world literature; representation of ageing and intersexuality; life in hypermodernity; translation, both linguistic and cultural; and the institutional forces at work in the production and reception of twenty-first-century texts. Reading across the twenty chapters affords an opportunity to reconsider what is meant by both ‘European’ and ‘contemporary literature’ and to recontextualize single-discipline perspectives in a comparatist framework.

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Margaret-Anne Hutton Introduction

Extract

Undisciplined Disciplines Readings in Twenty-First-Century European Literatures originated in a conference held at St Andrews University in September 2010, the principal aim of which was to identify and begin to plot emerging trends in a range of European literatures. The motive behind the project was straightforward enough. For the organizers working out of a School of Modern Languages that consists of six departments, houses an Institute for Contemporary and Comparative Literature, runs comparative literature programmes and enjoys close ties with the School of English, carrying out research into con- temporary literature whilst locked into single subject specificity seemed distinctly parochial, out of sync with the supposedly global(ized) context of culture today, and at odds with the fact that the majority of our students were embarked on degree programmes involving the study of more than one national literature. Of course there are mitigating circumstances for the persistence of subject insularity, not least, but surely not only, the very real issue of translation. Beyond this, and in spite of the rhetoric (coming mainly from funding bodies) urging us on to ever greater interdisciplinarity and transcultural negotiation, many of the institutions of academic life in the UK remain geared primarily to research into individual national literatures, whether in the form of single subject journals and conferences or publishers too often reluctant to tackle monographs dealing with several literatures. Impracticalities notwithstanding, intellectual and cultural curiosity in this case won the day. As a researcher operating out of a French Department, to take my...

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